Investing is not the type of subject that is learned intuitively through ‘doing’. In reality, even an active trader may not understand or experience what is really happening when they click ‘buy shares’.
What’s more, choosing the best companies to invest in or the best funds to invest in is such a subjective activity that those without a formal grounding in financial markets and investing will fall back upon their ‘gut’ to make decisions.
The process is made more difficult because feedback from good or bad investment choices is not immediate. When engaging with a sport such as skateboarding, if you make a mistake you’ll instantly fall off the board. This provides you with corrective feedback that you’re able to improve by leaps and bounds in a single session.
Investments take much longer to return a profit or loss on the back of your decision to make a trade. It might be months before your exit from the market was proven wrong by the values of companies beginning to creep up past the price at which you sold.
This article will suggest several free resources for investment education to allow you to cover all the basics and advanced areas without having to spend a penny. This is how to learn about investing for free.
1. Pick up investing books from your local library
Investing books are popular, but most people will instantly head to Amazon or a local book shop to purchase a title. For a book that will only be read once, have you considered popping to the local library instead?
Libraries in the UK are chronically underutilized and it’s difficult to understand why. Book sales have actually risen over the last decade. When ebooks are included, they have rocketed. So there’s no shortage of demand.
The issue probably stems from the limited opening hours of libraries which make them incompatible with common working patterns. Many are open from 9am – 5pm, which makes it difficult for anyone with a 9-5 office job to ever reach the building before the shutters close.
However, you should take a second look at the opening times of your local library because you could find that the times are more accommodating than you previously thought. Many open from 9am – 7pm several days per week, including half a day on Saturday. This provides the brief but crucial windows of time that you could utilize the library to take out investing books.
Libraries should have a reasonable range of business books & economics books. The age of the titles will be older due to the nature of a library, but don’t let this deter you. Most investment topics are timeless, so a 2013 title is just as useful as a 2020 title.
2. Search YouTube for professional beginners content from responsible and credible content producers
YouTube is a great and terrible source of investment education. It’s home to seriously well-produced content, with depth and perspective.
It’s also home to quickly-made content where the creator will rant for 40 minutes to justify a highly speculative position or use technical analysis to predict the direction of the financial markets in the following day or week. These creators lack editorial standards and are little more than someone sharing a questionable opinion. They’re perfectly entitled to do this but it makes the process of finding a well-grounded investment video that bit harder.
Another issue with the daily or weekly speculative content is that it creates an unhealthy dependency between viewer and creator.
- The creator needs to keep creating content for the sake of it, to stay in business and generate revenue.
- The viewers become accustomed to delegating their investment decisions to another brain.
An investment approach that relies upon you replicating someone else will reduce your confidence and result in you entering into trades that you do not personally understand. It’s not a very satisfactory way to invest.
The best way for find excellent videos is to look for trusted institutions such as The Economist, the Financial Times and the Bank of England. Professional firms are likely to also have videos with the slickest visual presentations which can help you absorb the information much more effectively.
3. Take a free lecture series from universities
If you Google ‘Free university lectures’, you’ll be shocked at how many top-notch universities are offering videos of entire university modules for free online.
You can watch a lecture series by Yale Professor Robert Schiller about Financial Markets. Without paying a penny, you can access this educational experience at an elite level. The only thing you’ll miss is the tutorials and exams!